Menssana Research develops pulmonary TB breath test

The Newark, New Jersey-based Menssana Research, Inc., has developed a rapid point-of-care breath test that accurately detects active pulmonary tuberculosis.

Menssana developed the BreathLink test after receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force and the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at medical centers in England, the Philippines and India tested the system on 279 patients. Patients gently breathed into a tube for two minutes and analysis was finished within six minutes.

The results of the tests were uploaded to Menssana's laboratory in close to real time.

"The breath test was 84 percent accurate in detecting patients with active pulmonary tuberculosis," Michael Phillips, the developer of the breath test and the CEO of Menssana, said. "It detected volatile organic compounds that are manufactured by the infecting organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes the disease."

Phillips pointed out that breath tests are preferred to blood tests, sputum tests and x-rays because they are safe, painless, quick and much less expensive.

Pulmonary TB is one of the leading causes of death from infectious disease. Approximately 9.4 million new cases of the disease are diagnosed throughout the world annually. The test could be used as a first-line screening process to reduce the cost of finding new cases of the disease in high-risk communities. Patients could receive the results of their breath tests in less than 10 minutes.

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